Public Statement by Chairman, NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION, on the Situation in NORTH-EAST NIGERIA and the BAGA, Incident

Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission is calling on Nigerians who have any information pertaining to the Baga massacre (my words) which took place last week to please come forward with such information to help the commission in its investigations. Find below the full text of the publication by the Chairman of NHRC’s governing body.

1.        The National Human Rights Commission has followed with committed interest the various forms and incidents of violence around different parts of the country, including, the situation in the North-East of Nigeria. We have also sought to be fully informed concerning the recent encounter between alleged insurgents and personnel of the armed and uniformed services. While the exact identities of the parties involved, what triggered this incident, the specifications of ordnance that may have been deployed and the full extent of casualty count remain unclear, it seems that an incident of humanitarian and human rights significance occurred, resulting in fatalities.
2.       In order to understand what happened, it is necessary to undertake an independent and credible assessment of the situation in the affected locations.  
3.       As an independent and statutory national institution for the protection of human rights, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has a responsibility to undertake this assessment. For this purpose, we are undertaking separate consultations with relevant agencies as well as with people from the affected communities. An assessment will also involve a visit to the affected communities. The Commission also proposes to monitor and undertake an assessment of the wider humanitarian situation in the North East of Nigeria.
4.      Sections 5 (b)-(e) and 6(1) of the amended National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Act requires the Commission in such situations to undertake investigations, assessments or studies and address recommendations to the President, the National Assembly or any other institutions as to what may be done. If an assessment discloses human rights crimes, the NHRC Act also empowers the Commission to make appropriate recommendations for accountability.
5.       The Act also gives the Commission full powers of a commission of inquiry, if necessary. As an independent institution, the NHRC must act with  fairness, rigour and professionalism and we are committed to doing so.
6.       For their parts, the NHRC fully requests the agencies of Government at all levels, Federal, State, and Local Government as well as elected representatives of the affected communities to afford it full co-operation and assistance in the conduct of this important work. We will also appeal to the affected communities to extend similar co-operation to the Commission.
7.       Any persons who may have any information that can assist the Commission in forming a view of what may have transpired can avail it of such information through its Executive Secretariat,  19 Aguiyi Ironsi Street, Maitama, Abuja.
8.       The Commission is maintaining full consultation with relevant international and regional institutions and Mandates and will keep all apprised of our progress and findings.
9.       In the interim, the NHRC transmits sincere condolences to the communities, families and persons affected or bereaved by violence in different parts of Nigeria.
Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, Ph.D.

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